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About this Guide

Page history last edited by EEM 14 years, 6 months ago


Go to next section, Part One: Introduction to Forced Migration


Forced migration as an academic field of study is very much in flux.  Its focus continues to be debated and its parameters, scope, theoretical underpinnings, and methodological approaches have yet to be fully defined.  So why produce a research guide for this subject area?  The answer is that despite the lack of consensus and ongoing discussions, a significant body of research literature relating to something referred to as “forced migration” already exists in both print and electronic form and is growing exponentially.  As such, a guide is needed to help researchers better understand this literature in order to gain access to it as efficiently and methodically as possible.


The principal audience for this guide is students in a higher education setting who require an introduction to the main research tools and information sources in their subject area of interest.  However, it should also appeal to novice researchers based in non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and international bodies who may not be familiar with the full range of information resources available to them beyond those produced by their individual offices.  In addition, the guide can serve as an information primer to policy researchers who are increasingly called on to conduct comprehensive literature searches for the purpose of meeting the standards of evidence-based research.  Finally, the guide should prove useful to librarians and information specialists who provide reference and research assistance to their users.


In this guide, “research” refers to the process of systematically seeking out and compiling materials and sources in order to answer a question, expand one’s knowledge of an existing topic, or discover something new.  Because so many different lines of inquiry can be pursued within the field of forced migration, this guide makes no assumptions about what constitutes a typical researcher.  However, it does assume readers have a basic familiarity with both libraries and the Internet.  It is impossible to ignore the Internet as both a tool for finding information and as an information resource in and of itself.  Many forced migration organizations maintain an online presence and use the Internet for a wide range of information services.  At the same time, this guide highlights information sources that are not freely available online, although they may be identified via the Internet, i.e., books, journal articles, and older materials that are more likely to be retrieved through libraries.  Undertaking effective research on forced migration issues requires adopting a hybrid strategy that encompasses both the library and Internet environments.  Strategy aside, this guide recognizes that readers will have variable access to information repositories: library collections or the Internet or both or neither.  It therefore describes both print and electronic resources, and, whenever possible, provides the reader with multiple options for retrieving the full-texts of these sources. 


The guide is organized as follows:  Part one begins with an introduction to the concept of “forced migration” that includes a review of forced migration categories, their legal or policy bases, the principal assistance organizations, and the academic perspective on forced migration definitions.  The second part of the guide presents a basic framework for conducting forced migration research both in libraries and on the Internet.  It introduces key search concepts and principles to consider in any research undertaking, then describes resources that can be used 1) as starting points for research, 2) to help expand research, and 3) to support research.  Part three highlights key information sources in forced migration, such as scholarly journals, reports and books, and discusses strategies for finding additional research literature through databases, library catalogues, search engines, and people.


As mentioned above, debates about the definition and scope of “forced migration” take place regularly within the research literature and during conferences.  This issue is explored more fully in the introduction.  However, for the purposes of selecting resources to include in this guide, I have used the definition adopted by the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) and promoted by Forced Migration Online (FMO): Forced migration “is a general term that refers to the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects” (Forced Migration Online, n.d.). Those who study this phenomenon tend to focus on “the causes and consequences of forced migration with an emphasis on understanding the experiences of those affected” (Refugee Studies Centre, n.d.).  The “affected” can include refugees; asylum-seekers; conflict-displaced, development-displaced, and disaster-displaced persons; and trafficked people.


As this definition shows, forced migration studies naturally overlaps with a number of other fields of study, including those that explore conflict, development, disasters, ethnic relations, human rights, migration, and peace.  As a result, it is difficult to delineate the exact boundaries of forced migration studies, and this guide does not attempt to do so.  While reference sources from related fields of study are included on a selective basis, a comprehensive survey of all relevant interdisciplinary information resources was beyond the scope of this guide.  Nevertheless, readers are encouraged to explore the literatures associated with other fields to complement their forced migration research and to promote a greater cross-pollination of ideas.  To facilitate this process, tips for finding additional reference and information sources beyond those listed in the guide are included in each sub-section of Parts two and three.


The following types of resources are described in the guide:


Reference Sources Information Sources Search Tools
Bibliographies   Books Journal databases
Encyclopedias Journals Library catalogues
Geographic resources People Search engines
Glossaries Research collections Subject directories
Literature reviews    

Multimedia resources

Resource guides    

Statistical resources

Yearbooks/Annual surveys    


More information about each specific type of resource is provided in the relevant sub-sections in Parts 2 and 3 of the guide.


While numerous searches were conducted in book and journal databases, library catalogues, and web search engines, the resulting collection of resources in this guide does not represent a comprehensive listing.  Two important criteria that limited the selection of individual titles are 1) date—only titles produced between 1990 and the present are reflected; and 2) language—English only, although other language texts were included if an English equivalent accompanied them.  While the focus of the guide is on English-language resources, the availability of other language versions is noted in the annotations.  In addition, a language index is provided to facilitate retrieval of non-English resources. 



Go to next section, Part One: Introduction to Forced Migration


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